New Zealand prepares to slaughter 15000 cows in disease cull

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Cows rest in a paddock on a farm near Invercargill, New Zealand, in 2017. Accordingly, about 150,000 cows, bulls, and calves will be killed in a desperate measure to keep under control and ultimately eradicate the spread of Mycoplasma Bovis in the country.

WELLINGTON, New Zealand New Zealand plans to slaughter about 150,000 cows as it tries to eradicate a strain of disease-causing bacteria from the national herd. The plan was announced by the New Zealand government on Monday.

Mycoplasma bovis has been detected on more than three dozen farms since it was first detected in New Zealand previous year, leading to the slaughter of about 26,000 cattle.

The disease causes udder infections, pneumonia and arthritis, but does not affect milk and meat for human consumption. Of this, $16 million is loss of production and is borne by farmers and $870 million is the cost of the response (including compensation to farmers).

MPI says a substantial part of a farmer's claim for culled cows should now take 4-10 days, with a fully verified claim taking 2-3 weeks. That has since dropped to 37 farms, with more than 11,000 cattle slaughtered.

Katie Milne, the president of the Cattlemen's Federation, said the decision "will cause pain and trauma to the affected families" but that it is better to get rid of the disease than to live with it for years.

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She pledged government support for these farmers to ensure the long-term success of the country's farming sector.

"This is a tough call - no one ever wants to see mass culls", she said. Both Government and our industry partners want those farmers to know support is there for them.

The nation would be spending near about NZ$800m (five hundred sixty million dollars) over about ten years in order to protect the dairy herd of New Zealand and secure the future dairy production of the nation's farming industry, which yields the nation the second largest profit.

"The fact that M bovis is now in the country indicates New Zealand's biosecurity is still at risk - there are obvious gaps in the system and things need to be tightened up". Even if cows appear to be healthy, officials will "kill all cows on any farms where the bacteria are found".

About 24,000 cows have already been killed in recent months and at least 128,000 more will have to be culled, most over the next year or two.

The decision was taken to "protect the base of our economy - the farming sector", Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.